Photo: Bill Hecht

Conservation Easement Secures Lands Bordering Owasco Inlet

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) permanently protected 93 acres in the town of Groton, Tompkins County with a conservation easement. Wholly located in the Owasco Lake watershed, the land was originally donated to the FLLT in 2019 from the estate of Katherine Sutphin with the understanding that it would be sold subject to an easement.

The property features wetlands, agricultural fields, mature woodlands, and 4,710 feet of frontage on the Owasco Inlet and an unnamed tributary. As they flow north to the lake, these waterways provide significant habitat for a variety of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. In addition to ensuring habitat, protecting land in this area safeguards the water quality of Owasco Lake by filtering runoff to the inlet.

Photo: Andy Zepp

In June, the land was sold to a private buyer, subject to the conservation easement that will limit development and permanently protect this environmentally sensitive parcel. Proceeds from the sale will be used to support the FLLT’s growing land protection and stewardship programs.

The FLLT continues to focus on land protection projects in the Owasco Lake watershed to address growing water quality concerns. In October 2020, the organization acquired 38 acres in the Owasco Flats, which serves as an important water quality buffer for the lake. Plans are underway to partner with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to conduct wetland restoration activities on the property during 2021.

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.